DC and Warner Bros. having a summit on pulling their act together on the comic book movie front?
Well, it's about darned time.
It's been a classic case of dog versus tail. At Marvel Comic, oops, excuse me, I mean Marvel Entertainment, the comics are the dog and the movies are the tail. Yes, the tail may be much BIGGER than the dog, but it's still a question of who's wagging whom. Marvel's memory is quite clear and they know that until they started pumping out the films, they were on the verge of backruptcy. Remember that? Marvel's clearly ticking through its available and most high profile characters one by one, and building their brand by building movies around them.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. is busy churning out, oh, "The Bucket List", "Fool's Gold", "10,000 B.C.", and the box office boffo "One Last Call". All this while it's got a panoply of American culture's most recognizable fictional character, known for generations, with the kind of high public profile that Marvel dreams of, all gathering dust on the cinematic shelf.
Oh, I'm not being fair, I know. The Batman franchise is pretty much exercising its full muscle, and Superman is at least, well, awake now. Quick what was Warner Bros. biggest movie splash in 2007? That's right: 300. And, as a graphic novel, 300 didn't exactly fly off the shelves, you know. It's one of things people kind of just ... look at; not buy.
Some of surprise hits at the theater have been based on what I can only kindly call "sleeper" or "cult" comics. I mean, Hellboy? Really? History of Violence? Friggin' Art School Confidential? Okay, that wasn't exactly a "hit", but you get my point. The studios are figuring out, thanks in part to Marvel's cinema chutzpah, that even the most obscure and poor-selling comic book generally has more potential than the average stack of Hollywood screenplays.
I think either Wacko or Yakko has finally woken up and smelled the popcorn: "Hey, these 'comic book movies' might be something popular and profitable... if only we had the rights to some comic book characters... ." Part of the problem, of course, is that Warner, which makes movies, is the dog, and DC, which makes comics, is the tail. Now, that's not something that can be really changed, but it can be ameliorated. Do the smart thing, Warner: set up a sub-studio, or an "imprint", or whatever you movie folks call it, whose sole job is to put on movies based on the comic book properties Warner owns, and put Michael Uslan there.
And take another tack from Marvel: focus your love and attention on the characters themselves and the comic books they came from, not on their previous media appearances. The previous Batman franchise faltered when it became an homage more to the Adam West show than an interpretation of the Bob Kane comics, and the Superman franchise stumbled out of the gate because it insisted on being a sequel (a remake, really) of a movie that came out 30 years earlier, rather than being about the Superman of today.
Learn also the (eventual) lessons of Smallville: stop being embarrassed about it being a comic book. Embrace the cape. That includes the shared universe of heroes; when a guest appearance by Aquaman causes a huge ratings spike, that should tell you something. After that, Smallville virtually became the JLA Headquarters.
The excitement being generated by the prospect of a joint Avengers movie that's being set up is nearly obscene. And, face it, almost no 'regular' Americans could rattle off an Avengers roster, whereas most of them could make a decent stab at listing the classical Justice League. The JLA's profile is off the charts compared to the Avengers. Warner's is the spoiled rich kid too bored to play with the fantastic toys it already owns, while Marvel is being the imaginative kid with a set of Legos.
Thanks for waking up, Warner Bros.! "Wonder Woman: the Movie" will appear in her comics themselves, when it should have been premiering on the real world big screen. Roll up your sleeves, and try to catch up... .